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 February, 2008


 The Party of Lincoln Joke

The More Things Change
By Al Owens

Republicans just love telling people theirs is the “Party of Abe Lincoln.” What’s that sound? Oh, it’s Honest Abe spinning uncontrollably in his grave.

I’d prefer to think of Republicans as being the party of Strom Thurman. Or as the party that sees nothing wrong with flying the flag of the Confederacy on public buildings. Wouldn’t Abe Lincoln find something a little ironic about that?

Consider, if you will, Lincoln running for the presidency today. He’d have some awfully high hurdles to jump.

As soon as he’d appear at campaign stops armed with the words, “There are no northern states, there are no southern states - there are just the United States of America,” his own party members would scold him for engaging in the folly of such a notion. Oh, he gives great speeches, they’d admit, but it’s all just empty rhetoric about bringing people together.

Besides, they’d fan out on all of the cable news stations to repeat the Republican talking point du jour, that Lincoln just doesn’t have the political chops to deal with the pressing issues of the day.

Lincoln would only point to his first run at president back in 1860, and what the pundits said about him then.

Here’s what an editorial writer (I’m not sure, but her name might have been Annabella Coulter) for the Gettysburg Compiler wrote about him on June 18th, 1860.

Since Abraham Lincoln has been nominated for the Presidency his friends are trying hard lo make him out the greatest man in America. But unfortunately his history will not sustain such a character. What has Lincoln ever done that he should be called great, or worthy of the presidency of a great nation?
Absolutely nothing! He has been a member of the State Legislature of Illinois two or three times, and for one session a member of Congress -- and that completes his political career up to this time.

Remove the name Abraham Lincoln and insert the name Barack Obama, and read that again.

This, by the way, isn’t a comparison of Obama to Lincoln. It’s just a comparison of the similarities of the talking points now to those nearly a century and a half ago.

Granted these are trying times for any president. But I doubt if the issue of slavery was a walk in the park either. Especially since shortly after Lincoln after got elected seven states immediately succeeded from the Union – before he even gave his inaugural address.

Lincoln, to use an ineffective and thusly abandoned Hillary Clinton talking point, was forced to be ready for office on “day-one.”

But Republicans will keep hammering away on the supposed inexperience of Barack Obama. They’ll also pretend the time John McCain spent in a North Vietnamese P.O.W. camp counts as “foreign policy experience.” I don’t buy that.

I’m pretty sure that unless he spent his days personally negotiating a peace settlement with Ho Chi Minh, being a P.O.W. doesn’t count. No more than Clinton can claim her time spent as the wife of a president – makes her a national security expert.

The word hope, too, has come under attack these days by anti-hope Republicans. Inspiring people while giving speeches has somehow become unimportant when Obama proves he’s good at it.

Republicans draw blanks when they’re reminded that it served as a great rallying cry Ronald Reagan, who’d made ample use of John Wintrop’s 17th century sermon, when he’d speak about that “shining city upon a hill.”

Once again though, Republicans would be at odds with old Abe Lincoln. McCain produces yelps of approval when he mentions the supposed empty “platitudes” Obama offers when giving all of those speeches before sold out auditoriums. McCain should look at what they said about Lincoln’s speeches. (And I’m not just talking about that Gettysburg Address) “All who are fond of reading good speeches,” wrote an editorial writer for the Trempealeau Representative of Trempealeau, Wisconsin wrote on March 3rd, 1860, “should follow Lincoln through the Presidential campaign and they will be repaid for their trouble.”

Personally, I’m of the opinion that if you follow John McCain through the presidential campaign, you may just find that cure for your insomnia.